Saturday, February 23, 2013

We are the ones we've been waiting for

Wow, I haven't posted in so long!

I'm grateful to be in good health, and I continue to study the environmental links to breast cancer - i.e. endocrine-disrupting and carcinogenic chemicals in products, food, water, and air - and to advocate for reduction/elimination/regulation of these dangerous toxins.  I was happy to hear of the 270-page "Breast Cancer and the Environment: Prioritizing Prevention" report, the result of a federal committee's three years of work.  This is a Big Deal!!  BCAction has a great article about it here: Prioritizing Prevention Requires Both Research and Regulation.  The report says, yes, chemicals in the environment cause breast cancer.  But this is hardly breaking news.  It's time to ACT upon this knowledge, not just do more and more research to confirm it.

I've started a monthly gathering called Sipping Point, at the local tea lounge.  It's a gathering of people who sip tea while writing letters that advocate for a healthy Earth, knowing that the more letters we send, the more likely it is that we will cause significant change.  If you're local, and you're interested, send me a message!  (Or friend the tea lounge on FB!)  I started this gathering for multiple reasons, such as the fact that I got sick of just signing petitions and emailing Senators.  That kind of activism can be tedious and lonely, and it requires too much time on the Internet, which isn't good for my health.  Engaging in activism with others, while eating baked goods and drinking yummy organic tea, is much more enjoyable.  Also, handwritten letters are rare these days and get noticed more than emails.  Last month, some friends of mine came to Sipping Point with their lovely baby daughter, and we all wrote letters to Procter & Gamble asking them to NOT sell Dolce & Gabbana's crazy new product - perfume for BABIES!  (If you agree that that STINKS, go here to write a protest letter of your own.)

But my biggest reason for starting Sipping Point?  I want to encourage people to take action for the health of the Earth - and ourselves - in ways that go beyond personal choices and lifestyle changes.  Women are told to prevent breast cancer (or a recurrence) by exercising, avoiding alcohol, eating enough vegetables, and maintaining a healthy weight.  I say, no, it's more than just being a Sandra Dee and following all the rules to be Good, because even that's no guarantee.  I DID all that and STILL got breast cancer.  If people talk at all about chemicals increasing breast cancer risk, it's usually in the form of "smarter shopping" advice - buy A, B, C; don't buy X, Y, Z.  This annoys me to no end.  It implies that if we're diagnosed with cancer or a recurrence of it, well, it's our own damn fault for eating the wrong foods or wearing the wrong deodorant.  We women are made to feel guilty for so many things, and responsible for so many things that really aren't our fault.  If you unknowingly drink a glass of juice with aspartame in it, your response should not be, "OH NO, I can't believe I drank the wrong juice!"  It should be, "OH HELL NO, I can't believe [company] put a carcinogen in my juice!"  And how are we supposed to be Good and avoid GMOs, if they're not even LABELED?  It's crazy.  It's not right.  It's not our fault.

Also, I can't stop thinking about this quote from Derrick Jensen: 

"An Inconvenient Truth helped raise consciousness about global warming. But did you notice that all of the solutions presented had to do with personal consumption—changing light bulbs, inflating tires, driving half as much—and had nothing to do with shifting power away from corporations, or stopping the growth economy that is destroying the planet? Even if every person in the United States did everything the movie suggested, U.S. carbon emissions would fall by only 22 percent. Scientific consensus is that emissions must be reduced by at least 75 percent worldwide."

The whole article is here - Forget Shorter Showers.  His point is that we need BIG, BIG change, from industry, corporations, government, military.  We shouldn't be giving ourselves gold stars for using cloth shopping bags and composting our scraps and thinking that just changing our personal behaviors is creating big political change.  I heard, from an employee at the local co op, that there's a woman in town who's so horrified by the fact that the co op throws out single-use latex gloves that employees use, that she drives to the co op to collect those used gloves, brings them home and washes them, and reuses them.  I understand her intentions, but personally, I think our time is much better spent on ACTIVISM.  

I know a lot of people think that a problem like carcinogenic chemicals in the environment is too huge to even bother with, because expecting change from corporations or the government is useless, and that's why it's easier to do things like take shorter showers and feel really proud of ourselves.  But it's a catch-22.  If we all throw up our hands and say change is impossible, we're right - change is impossible.  But if we all join together and demand change, there WILL be change.  It's just that everyone seems to be thinking something along the lines of, "I'll join in the movement when other people do; until then, what's the point?"  But guess what,

We are the ones we've been waiting for.

WE have to do it.  Each of us.  We have to expect that change is possible, and take action accordingly.  And I'm seeing definite signs of hope -

A team of scientists have developed a process (called TiPED) by which chemists can test new chemicals, as they are creating them, to see if the chemicals would harm the endocrine system.  What led this team to do this project was, largely, consumer demand for safer chemicals.  If TiPED determines that a chemical would be harmful to the endocrine system, the chemist can then set that chemical aside without spending any more time or money on it, and work on creating something safer.  The article is here .

This is my favorite part of the article – 
“Market research firm Pike Research predicts the market for green chemistry will grow dramatically, from $2.8 billion in 2011 to $98.5 billion in 2020.2 The “clean little secret” that people in a wide variety of industries—including electronics, aerospace, cosmetics, agriculture, and energy—are increasingly recognizing is that green chemistry leads to good business decisions, says Paul Anastas, …”

That’s really good news!
Change is possible!